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Competence Profiles

... Rice Farmer or World Expert?

...for a good leader... the greatest responsibility is to appoint good people.

Peter Wickens, Author.

Author: Jim Wardhaugh

Locations: 2.2.3 New Medium-Sized Oil Refinery

  • 2.2.2 Large Complex Refinery
  • 2.3.4 Small Complex Refinery


Some years ago, I was on a panel interviewing school graduates for craft positions in one of our locations. The sort of jobs they would initially fill would be as fitters, welders, electricians, etc. Some would progress to be technicians and supervisors, while a few could attain engineer and managerial positions.

We were a big-name company and paid good salaries, so we were always flooded with applications—many more than we needed. The personnel department would filter these into a short list for me and others to interview. This filtering was largely on the basis of academic excellence; I ended up interviewing candidates with a potential to do quite well at university. Every year I would argue that this was nonsense as much of the work we wanted these people to do was rather mundane and there was only a small amount of really challenging work. The personnel department's approach meant that we were taking on people who were too good, would soon get bored, become troublesome, and leave.

I still believe this and any recruitment I have done since has been on the basis of producing a preferred profile of required talents and abilities. I believe this to be valid whether we are looking at directors, managers, engineers, or fitters.

Therefore, when taking on personnel for our grass-roots refinery, I tried to make sure we had a profile which roughly fitted the work profile. However, I modified it so that we took on a few people who could eventually be moved into more senior positions.

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